It depends what it is, of course.
If it is Sanchez, you are a legal Resident Alien in Arizona and you get swept up in an event involving the police you had better have Your Papers with you.
If it is Blask, not so much.
I’ve been an illegal alien, but then I’m white so it never occurred to me to be concerned that would come up. I worked with a bunch of legal Ethiopian Canadian immigrants who had much more to worry about than I did. Donna and I had separated back in the eighties (young, stupid) for a year and a half, and when we got back together and I was in South Carolina and she was in Toronto the fact that my old Canadian Resident Alien status wasn’t any good didn’t stop me for a second. I’d lived there for ten years previously, so I just moved back first then waited for my Visa to come through, parking cars for a living until I could get an over-the-table job.
It was all effectively innocent. My wife lived there, I did get a new visa. In the end my little indiscretion worked out well for Canada, the job I got after parking those cars was where I dreamt up the BorderWare Firewall Server which a bunch of Canadians made a company around and later sold to an American company for US$200M, effectively tipping the US/Canadian trade balance a measurable hair in Canada’s favor. Everyone wins.
But if I had the exact same story and had grown up in Mexico instead of Canada, gone to high school in Arizona instead of Ontario, married my teenage sweetheart in Tuscon instead of Toronto, my name was not Blask but Sanchez and my hair was black not blonde my eyes brown not blue my English a hundred times better than my French but still accented and awkward and I was parking cars by Tuscon City Hall waiting for my new visa to come through…
Well, that would be entirely different. Prison and separation would loom around every corner. Consequences beyond the imagination could trip open and spill all over me at a moment’s notice.
Not for Chris Blask, though. Chris Blask is at home from Tuscon to Toronto – white, fluent, blond and relaxed. The very idea that a traffic stop would involve anyone asking me to prove my citizenship doesn’t cross my mind. More importantly, it doesn’t cross my mind because no officer is going to ask Chris Blask for his passport, and no one is going to ask Donna Blask for her green card either.
Even though she carries it in her wallet.
Canadian citizen Donna Blask will never be asked for her green card by the police in Arizona.
American citizen Donna Sanchez will.